Reviewed by: Michael Bailey
Originally Aired: April 4, 2023
WRITTEN BY: Juliana James
DIRECTED BY: Stewart Hendler
Tyler Hoechlin (Clark Kent/Superman)
Bitsie Tulloch (Lois Lane)
Michael Bishop (Jonathan Kent)
Alex Garfin (Jordan Kent)
Emmanuelle Chriqui (Lana Lang Cushing)
Inde Navarrette (Sarah Cushing)
Wolee Parks (John Henry Irons)
Tayler Buck (Natalie Irons)
Erik Valdez (Kyle Cushing)
Inde Navarrette (Sarah Cortez)
Sofia Hasmik (Chrissy Beppo)
Dylan Walsh (Gen. Sam Lane)
Chad L Coleman (Bruno Mannheim)
Samantha Di Francesco (Candice Pergande)
Adrian Glynn McMorran (Emmitt Pergande)
Christian Sloan (Elias Orr)
Angel Parker (Dr. Darlene Irons
Duc Phan (Jay Zhang)
Patricia Drake (General Hardcastle)
Daisy Torme ( A.I. Device)
Dee Jay Jackson (Cobb Branden)
Monique Phillips (Aidy Manning)
Rating – 5 (out of 5): Despite having some good forward movement into the main plot this episode felt…not smaller, because that implies that it is lesser than the previous three episodes, which is most certainly is not. Focused. That’s a good word. Yeah. We’ll go with focused and stick with that.
The bulk of the episode dealt with the Kents, which makes sense considering Lois has finally started her treatments and a day at home was necessary. Again, for personal reasons, this sort of thing hits close to home and it was nice to see the writers and actors explore what effect an illness has on a household. Clark overcompensating and the boys arguing all feel perfectly natural. To be honest, I liked seeing the boys have a regular sibling fight instead of the usual, more dramatic conflicts they have. They were fighting over a hoodie, not whether Jonathan feels left out of Jordan’s super-human training sessions. I liked that a lot.
Speaking of small family moments, the scenes between Jordan and Sam were nice to see too. It was a little out of line for Sam to once again use subterfuge to get one of the kids to do what he wanted and Jordan, like Sarah in the previous episode, was out of line for saying what he said. The thing is, like just about everything else this show does with its characters, this felt natural. Sam has a point. Jordan doesn’t have the built in disguise Clark did and Clark was not active in saving people on the level Jordan is when Clark was Jordan’s age. Precautions need to be taken, but that doesn’t mean that Sam had to approach the matter the way he did. It’s interesting that one of Sam’s character traits is to low-key manipulate people in his life to get at what he wants, and I wonder what that says about his upbringing, but I might be looking too deeply at this.
The resolution to this sub-plot was handled nicely. I liked seeing Sam show a more vulnerable side to his grandson and admit how much his feelings were hurt, which is a step forward for him as a character. Them actually heading out to fish at the end was also a step forward because it seemed like Jordan didn’t enjoy that as much leading Sam to have a different relationship with Jordan compared to Jonathan. I know, I know. Jordon’s anxiety used to be a bigger problem, but it was nice to see the two characters bonding like they did. Giving Jordan the goggles added to this, and I laughed when he said how they would tie the whole outfit together like it hurt a little to say.
I wonder if the final outfit will resemble the outfit Clark wore in the American Alien mini-series.
The one issue I had with this episode was how John Henry reaching out to Darlene went down. It was an emotional scene, and I liked that part of it, but…and I know this is super nit-picky…it seemed like she accepted an alternate universe version of her brother without enough fuss. Now, I have a theory about this that I’ll get to in a moment, but for the purposes of this episode it seemed like it was just, “Oh yeah, there was that other universe so it’s totally reasonable that an alternate version of my brother would exist.” It’s not a major complaint, just a minor one.
I’m still going with theory that is Darlene the masked villain that works with Mannheim, so if she is and if Mannheim was aware of this John Henry’s existence, then her accepting the alternate universe version of her brother makes a lot more sense.
The scenes with Bruno and John were also great. I was a little dubious of John getting into the car, but the confrontation was well written and both Coleman and Parks delivered fantastic performances. The bit where John jumped off the ledge and armored up may seem a bit Iron Man in its execution, but I’d argue that there is precedent in the comics of John being able to summon his armor. This way was a bit more technological in nature.
The Lang/Cortez sub-plot continues to keep me engaged. I kind of felt bad for Kyle because as much as Sarah is caught between Lana and Kyle, this time Kyle was caught in between Lana and Sarah. His finding out that Lana slapped Sarah and then finding out what Sarah said to Lana kept him going back and forth until they all finally sat down and hashed things out, Again, nothing justifies what Lana did, but that doesn’t mean that Sarah wasn’t out of line. Hitting just wasn’t the answer. (Aside…I’m not sure getting forced to get a hair cut is the best way to deal with a teenager being a teenager either, but the stakes are much lower there.) I was not one hundred percent sold on Kyle “judge someone for their best day, not their worst day” but for this particular situation it didn’t feel toxic or like he was gaslighting Sarah.
I like Kyle as being the good dad, though.
And that brings us to the Kent family vs. Emmitt.
The great thing about the Kents is that they don’t back down from a fight, even when it gets them punched in the face or have someone flash a gun to them. Jonathan standing up to Emmitt was right in line with the character. Lois heading over there to deal with the consequences of that was also in character. Even though both Jordan and Clark have powers, you can’t discount Lois as a major force in that family. The only reason what happened at the diner happened is that she’s sick. I liked that she did deescalate when the gun was flashed, because Jordan seemed ready to jump in, but discretion was the better part of valor in this case.
What I’m trying to make abundantly clear is that, at the end of the day, the rest of the Kents could have dealt with Emmitt.
But then Clark got home.
Clark Kent dealing with a bully (though Emmitt is a little more…okay, a lot more than a mere bully) is nothing new, either in the comics or in the movies or on television. From Christopher Reeve getting his get back on Rocky at the diner or Tom Welling tossing a couple frat guys around because they were going to assault Lana or a trucker that seems to be a good foot shorter than Henry Cavill throwing beer in Cavill’s face, this is something we’ve seen before. Even in the comics you’ve moments like Clark punching Steve Lombard in the face off panel or a younger Clark punching a kid for making fun of Martha in the latter part of the NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY series from the eighties or even Clark kicking in a neighbor’s door to keep the neighbor from beating his wife. It’s not a new concept.
I think the scene in the diner towards the end of the episode was the best we’ve ever seen. For one thing, Emmitt had it coming. Rocky beat Clark up, but he wasn’t threatening members of his family. Emmitt committed several legit crimes and after the day Clark had and the whole situation with Lois and her cancer, I think he was just done.
More than that, this made me realize that as much as Clark, especially this Clark, is Superman, who has a responsibility to the world, he’s also a husband and a father and when Lois told him this wasn’t a job for Superman and Clark responded, “He’s not going,” it made me realize that as separate as Clark’s various identities are, his role as Superman and his role as father and husband can be seen intersecting on a Venn Diagram, but there are situations where they are on opposite sides of the world.
And even though he got physical with Emmitt, he wasn’t cruel. He calmly asked to talk to Emmitt. Emmitt said no. Clark ran through his crimes. Emmitt told Clark to get out of his face. Clark said he didn’t want to do this in front of Candace, which was far more respect than the man deserved and that’s when Emmitt got to his feet and at this point Clark could have done any number of things. His choice was to let Emmitt try to hit him to show how much that wasn’t going to work and the look on Emmitt’s face was great. The doubt and the confusion were so clear.
And then Emmitt decides his best course of action is to take a swing at Clark and that’s when Clark gets physical. He doesn’t Smallville through him across the room. He doesn’t punch the guy through a wall. He pins him to the counter and seems to dig in just a little to cause some pain and let Emmitt know how serious this is.
It was so good.
And all during this you can hear a soft musical score, but there is also something that sounds like a heartbeat. It’s steady and strong and I think this was a sound effect layered in to show us that while Clark is mad, he’s also completely in control of the situation.
I loved the scene. This isn’t surprising. What is surprising is how much this scene has blown up on social media and how many people were there for it.
I realize this season has a lot going on and this episode continued the overall story and had a solid ending that felt like the first chapter was done and now we’re moving into the second one.
But that diner scene is going to live rent free in my head for the rest of my life.
(I especially liked Kyle going to get up and Lana stopping him followed by the “Damn, Kent”)
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